Until now, the national and provincial health departments have not been able to say where services are provided. Here’s how we found them.
Use the search tool to find a safe, free abortion closest to you. Do you spot an error? Let us know. Please note that this map is based on facilities’ self-reporting so it’s best to call ahead and confirm services are offered.
What we wanted to do
Bhekisisa wanted to determine which public health facilities offer abortions and create an easily accessible, interactive map that users can consult.
Why we wanted to do it
Bhekisisa has covered several stories about women having backstreet abortions in South Africa, where abortion has been legal for more than two decades.
Many of our case studies told us they didn’t know where to get a legal abortion at a government facility.
When we contacted the health department about this issue, we discovered it had no updated list of available facilities, and even the outdated list was not freely available to the public.
How we did it
In February, Bhekisisa received a national health department list with 450 designated facilities for termination of pregnancy.
From February to mid-March, the centre worked with provincial health departments to determine which facilities provided abortions.
After these consultations, the centre phoned each of the facilities that had been confirmed by provincial health department spokespeople, to determine whether the services were offered.
Our #SizaMap consultants introduced themselves as patients requiring abortions.
Listen to what health workers told one of our #SizaMap consultants:
They asked the following questions:
1. Are you the best person to speak to about your abortion services? If not, could you put me through to someone?
2. Do you offer abortion services?
3. If so, what kind of abortion services do you offer (first trimester, second trimester, or both?)
4. When is this service offered? (Only on specific days/times?)
5. Do you offer family planning?
6. If so, please list the options.
7. Do you outsource your abortion services?
8. If so, please provide contact details for the facility you outsource to.
9. Please provide your street address.
What we found
Consultations with provincial health departments revealed that 246 facilities offered abortion. A total of 236 of the 246 facilities could be reached by phone. At 197 facilities, administrators or health workers confirmed their facilities provided terminations of pregnancies.
A facility was deemed unreachable after not responding to five phone calls over a period of two days.
Some facilities provided surprisingly discriminatory responses, such as: “We don’t provide abortions here. This is a child-friendly hospital. Your child could be the next president.”
A few health workers refused to give information over the phone. This makes it difficult for people to get information because they would have to spend far more money on transport to the clinic than they would on a phone call.
It should be noted that telephonic surveys are vulnerable to bias, meaning that those surveyed may be tempted to respond positively so that answers reflect better on themselves, services or their places of work. Because of this, #SizaMap may overstate the number of functioning abortion providers. Also, this type of mapping does not measure the quality or consistency of care provided. People using the map should call facilities before seeking services because services may change depending on the availability of trained health professionals at the facility.